How to Choose the Right Lift Kit for Your Vehicle
by: Cody Wallis
If you own a truck, SUV, or Jeep, you may have looked in to installing a lift kit on your vehicle. Lift kits will lift the body or wheels of a vehicle further off the ground, resulting in more clearance or more maneuverability around obstacles. There are several reasons why people might customize their vehicles with suspension lift kits, as well as quite a bit to know before you get started.
The first thing you need to determine when considering suspension lift kits is what you want to do with it. There are essentially two main purposes for installing vehicle lift kits: style or function. Although the two are somewhat interrelated, it's still important to consider which purpose you most wish to pursue, as it will assist you in making the correct modifications to your vehicle.
Before diving headfirst into a custom truck lift kit and gigantic tires, there are a number of issues to address to ensure a correct setup. The first step is to ask yourself what you will be doing the most, whether it's slow-speed rock crawling, high-speed desert racing, general purpose 4 wheeling, mud racing, or long distance open country treks. From there, you can narrow down what you need to do in order to customize your vehicle to suit your needs.
Keep in mind that installing truck lift kits can alter other components in your vehicle. This can sometimes cause unforeseen issues that could affect performance or be potentially harmful to the vehicle itself. For example, drive shaft length, steering geometry, brake lines, highway performance and handling, gear ratios, and overall weight are just a few of the factors that could potentially be impacted by adding truck suspension lift kits.
One of the foremost reasons for installing truck suspension lift kits is to raise the height of your vehicle off the ground to enable steeper ascent or descent off-road, and higher ground clearance. In general, it makes sense that when driving over boulders, slogging through mud, coasting across the desert, or even just making your way through the occasional forest trail, higher clearance means negotiating certain obstacles. But, a higher clearance also raises your vehicle’s center of gravity, which can reduce handling.
Some of the main lift kits to consider:
- SPOA suspension lift kits are most popular among serious rock crawlers looking for the best articulation (up and down wheel travel). These truck lift kits keep the tires on the ground for maximum traction, while correctly lifted springs lifts everything out of harm's way, including the springs.
- S/R truck lift kits are designed to provide a smooth ride upon mild terrain such as forest roads, desert driving, and scenic trails; however, high-speed driving on highways is not recommended.
- The choice of many of the world's best-riding 4 wheel drive vehicles, Coil Suspension Lift Kits offer unrivaled ride quality and cheaper springs, but installation sometimes requires some welding. The end result, however, is a suspension lift kit that provides excellent articulation on the trail, and a comfortable ride. The most commonly used type of truck lift kits in the world, Lifted Spring systems are easier to install, and an excellent choice for first-time lifters in the off-road world. These truck lift kits allow you to run larger tires for additional clearance, while producing control on the highway.
- One of the most affordable ways to add inches to your vehicle, Shackle Suspension Lift Kits are primarily for the truck enthusiast looking to add larger tires, yet are not intending to do much hardcore off-roading. Moderation is recommended with these truck lift kits, as Shackle systems are known to affect steering and sway control.